It must have been a “lucky day” in 2015 for this Japanese angler, who reeled in a colossal fish off the north coast of the island of Hokkaido, Japan, near Russia. Was this terrifying-looking sea creature, which looked like something from a science fiction film, a result of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster?
Undoubtedly, Hiroshi Hirasaka was stunned by his gigantic catch. The Japanese fish enthusiast, who often flew to Hokkaido to reel up strange sea animals and had written a book titled “Exotic Fish Species: I Caught, Judged and Tried Eating,” posted a photo of himself “barely holding” the enormous “monster” with a huge gaping mouth on Twitter.
Hirasaka said that this terrifying-looking creature, which he hauled from the ocean, was actually a “bering wolffish.” He wrote: “It was worth flying to [Hokkaido] twice within three months. This guy is super cool.”
— 平坂寛 (@hirahiroro) August 31, 2015
The catch is exceptionally prized, as the ferocious-looking wolffish is typically found in the deep sea in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans; thus, it’s rarely swimming near the surface.
On average, the wolffish is around 3 feet long, but apparently, the creature Hiroshi was holding was longer than that. It measured close to 2 meters (approx. 6.5 feet) long. His is believed to be one of the largest wolffish ever recorded in history!
Its exceptionally enormous size has raised questions about mutation caused by radiation, as the creature was caught near the site of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
However, Earth Touch News Network suspected this could be the result of an optical illusion: Hirasaka could have made the fish appear bigger by bringing it closer to the camera lens.
Dr. Timothy Mousseau, a radiation specialist of the University of South Carolina, told IBTimes UK that the giant wolffish is unlikely the result of mutation caused by radiation. “First and foremost simply because usually the effects of mutations are to reduce growth rates to make things smaller,” Mousseau said.
“They grow less efficiently, they’re less capable of catching food and they tend to not live as long. Most of the effects of increased mutations are deleterious. Very very few mutations lead to extra-large size,” he continued.
— 平坂寛 (@hirahiroro) August 29, 2015
Hirasaka doesn’t believe the wolffish he caught was a Fukushima radiation mutant either.
Upset over the false internet rumor surrounding the fish, Hirasaka, who holds degrees in marine biology and ecological sciences, told VICE: “That fish has been in [Hokkaido] for a long time, so it’s not feasible for it to be affected by radiation. It’s rude to the fish to say that, and it’s not cool to blame everything on radiation. Creatures only become big in the world of science fiction, and we’re not living in the world of Hulk or Godzilla.”
“I’m not sure if it was a joke or not, but I was sad to think that they thought it was like that because of nuclear radiation,” he added. “I just want them to have the correct information.”
It was, nevertheless, an unusual catch—the wolffish that Hirasaka captured was a very old and healthy specimen. Mousseau explained: “If you look hard and long enough there’s always a few that manage to survive long enough to achieve these large sizes.”